Belgrade 2024: Zsuzsanna Jakabos makes history as she gets her 11th European Aquatics Championships underway

Published On: June 17, 2024

Credit to:  European Aquatics

Zsuzsanna Jakabos wrote a new line in the history books as she got her record 11th European Aquatics Championships underway, 20 years after her debut at Madrid 2004.

Jakabos swam the second leg of the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay as the Hungarian quartet booked lane four for the final after topping the prelims in 8:03.82 at the Sports and Recreational Center Milan Gale Muškatirović.

The 35-year-old’s appearance at Belgrade 2024 moved her clear of compatriots Laszlo Cseh and Katinka Hosszu who had competed at 10 continental championships.

Jakabos had only turned 15 a month before her European senior debut in the Spanish capital in May 2004.

Also competing were the likes of Laure ManaudouTherese Alshammar and Yana Klochkova with Alex PopovPieter van den Hoogenband and Cseh featuring among the men.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Jakabos was unaware she had made history but the meet 20 years ago clearly lit a flame inside Jakabos that still burns today.

“I clearly remember the first one, it was 2004 in Madrid,” Jakabos told European Aquatics. “Years just went and here we are.

“Memories? It was rainy days, cold weather and I was very young and I didn’t know anything.

“I was happy to be there. I was watching the big stars around me and it was so special and I felt like I want to feel this every year.

“So that is why I was training hard after that, after 2004.”

Jakabos made a couple of individual finals in Madrid, finishing fourth in the 400IM – 2.08secs off Anja Klincar in third – and sixth in the short medley as Klochkova completed the medley double.

Since then, she has competed at a further 10 Europeans and claimed 12 continental long-course medals.

Credit to: European Aquatics

She is happy to commit to the demands of elite-level sport, saying: “It is always changing. In the last five or six years, I felt like I am doing this not because I have to but because I want to.

“I am trying to find the good parts in everything and just see what my limit is.

“It is changing every year, it is getting harder of course. Also mentally getting harder; getting harder to be excited because it is a Europeans.

“Sometimes it’s ‘okay, one more let’s do this’ but that is not a good way so I have to be excited and I have to be happy to be here. So that is the hardest part for me.”

Jakabos is looking to make the Olympic cut in Belgrade and book a spot at her sixth Olympics, 20 years after appearing at Athens 2004 and every subsequent Games.

That would elevate her into the record books alongside Swedish pair Alshammar and Lars Frolander, as well as Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia and Turkey’s Derya Büyükuncu with the quartet having made the most Olympic appearances by a swimmer.

“That’s what keeps me going,” she said. “I want to be the best version of myself and if I can do the cut then I can do it.

“It is so much better if I can compete and not just train.”

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